By Jane Mlambo| The Chipinge Magistrates court on Wednesday postponed to 1 August 2022, the trial of three Checheche residents who are facing violence and disorderly conduct charges.
The three Winnie Bhila, Patrick Dhliwayo and Irvine Mathabuka who are leaders of Checheche Residents and Ratepayers Trust ( CRRT) are being accused of violence and disorderly conduct after allegedly stopping the RDC team that was conducting a budget consultation in Checheche last year in November 2021.
It is the state’s case that the Bhila, Dhliwayo and Mathabuka disrupted a Chipinge Rural District Council meeting, demanding the budget process to be given more time.
The trio denied the allegations and have described their arrest as an attempt to intimidate and frustrate their effort to demand transparency and accountability from Chipinge RDC.
In another case, Chipinge Magistrates court acquitted Emmanuel Marukani of Chinyamukwakwa village who was facing charges of malicious damage to property.
According to the state, Marukani teamed up with fellow villagers to deny identified and known police officers from Chisumbanje ZRP who were raiding Sesame farmers in Chinyamukwakwa.
Marukani alleges that the police action to raid sesame farmers was motivated by greed as they wanted to force farmers to pay bribes to evade arrest.
Marukani and the Checheche trio were all represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Platform for Youth and Community Development has since expressed concern over the arrest of Checheche residents leaders saying the move stands against the tenets of free expression.
“Freedom of expression and freedom of association are reportedly under threat, with the PYCD office in Checheche inundated with increased number of cases in which villagers are getting arbitrarily arrested without considering that they have rights to know their cases before arrest, as much as they have the right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice,” said PYCD Director Claris Madhuku.